Is it true that every time people attempt to satisfy their needs by means of an exchange, marketing is involved? Or is it false? I once posed this question to a group of marketing students. Their answers were as varied and entertaining as a circus. The conversations that flowed from this made me to do a rethink about what marketing really is.
What is marketing? Several authors have defined marketing in various ways. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational goals. Cronje, et al (2007:283) define marketing as consisting of management tasks and decisions directed at successfully meeting opportunities and threats in a dynamic environment, by effectively developing and transferring a need-satisfying market offering to consumers, in such a way that the objectives of the business, the consumer and society will be achieved.
Schiffman and Kanuk (1994) talk about the marketing concept which they insist is about a company determining accurately the needs and wants of specific target markets, and delivering the desired satisfactions better than the competition. They also say that a marketer should make what it can sell, instead of trying to sell what it has made.
Using the example of a tennis racket, Perreault and McCarthy (1996:8) posit that marketing is about analysing the needs of consumers of a particular product, deciding the range of need for this product, determining amount of interests for now and the future, and providing access to the product. They also talk about the price to sell the product in order to make profit as well as ensuring that consumers get to know about the product. Interestingly they have also included other tennis racket manufacturers as constituting part of a racket manufacturer’s consideration. Perreault and McCarthy thus conclude that marketing is both a set of activities performed by organisations as well as a social process. The inclusion of a social process in the definition submits to marketing serving a social and economic benefit for the whole society.
Lamb, et al (2007:7) say marketing is about anticipating and satisfying consumer needs by means of mutually beneficial exchange processes and doing so profitably and more effectively than competitors by means of efficient managerial processes.
Marketing therefore can be said to be about exchanges, conversations and interventions to improve the quality of goods and services as well as to obtain some benefits. If one can argue that this is true, therefore, marketing possibilities extend to both a seller of a product and or service as well as the buyer of the product or service. The question one can then ask in this instance is whether a role is played by the buyer of a service or product. The answer is a simple yes. The buyer’s role can therefore be said to include:
- A declaration of the need for a service or product
- Purchasing a product or service
- Using and or consuming a product or service
- Evaluating the benefits of a product or service for possible future use
Today’s marketers face a marketplace that is becoming increasingly more competitive, more specialised, more globalised and more technologically-driven. To participate and sustain relevance, marketers require a combination of creativity and knowledge. To effectively manage and realise a buyer’s objectives, the seller has to perform the following roles:
- Presentation of sources of identifying a service or product
- Ensuring that the product or service is affordable as well as providing access to the product or service
- Provision of enough information that enhances the beneficial use of the product or service
- Provision of accessible feedback mechanism for users of a product or service
- Acting on feedback from users of a product or service
The foregoing demonstrates that marketing is essentially an interaction between marketers and consumers of goods and services, which requires taking a decision on the part of management to produce worthwhile products and services, and then sell them at affordable prices on the basis of the profile of a market segment. It also behoves management to ensure meaningful access to the goods and services as well as the use of appropriate media to communicate the messages of the product and or service.
Bennett, P.D. 1995. Dictionary of marketing terms. 2nd edition. Chicago: American Marketing Association, p. 115.
Cronje, GJ, Du Toit GS, Motlatla, & MDC, Marais, A de K. 2007. Introduction to Buiness Management. 6th edition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, p. 283.
Schiffman, Leon G, & Kanuk, LL. 1994. Consumer Behavior. 5th edition. London: Prentice-Hall.
Perreault, W.D. & McCarthy, E.J. 1996. Basic Marketing. Chicago: McGraw-Hill, p.8
Lamb, Charles W Jr, Hair, JF, McDaniel, C, Boshoff, & C, Terblanche, NS. 2007. Marketing. 2nd South African edition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, p. 7.